Does being a "hard line atheist" mean you believe in an accidental universe? I have a Christian friend, a few actually, but this guy is the only one I can have a real debate with and not hold back. We often, informally, debate religion, politics and philosophy when we hang out. More often than not, our mental exercises yeild the same results, but occasionally one of us makes a new argument. This time it was my friend, who I'll call Jon, that posed the question. That question being; the opening line of this post.
I sat there on his couch last night, eating buffalo wings and drinking a beer while I ruminated on his query. I didn't have an answer to the question because the terminology seemed vague, and therefore an inadaquit premise for an argument. I offered instead, a more accurate version: Does being an anti-theist mean you must believe in an accidental universe? His point was you can't be certain the universe was an accident.
That's a pretty easy argument to beat, isn't it? I've done it time and time again while debating Jon, but this time I had to think a bit harder to satisfactorily answer the question. I had to conceit the point. The only honest answer I could give was no. Jon then went about arguing for intelligent design in his usual way, but using my answer as the crux of his argument.
Armed with this new weapon he posited that anti-theists can't disprove god because my answer created a binary option. Aha! I know this argument. Its the coin toss argument. My brain lights up as the connections between synapses are made and a thought begins to form in my mind. Now I have a legitimate rebuttle... Or do I?
As Joe presented his argument, it became more complex. How could I rectify this cognitive dissonance? The coin toss isn't quite applicable in this context because the initial question modified the parameteres. Then I found it, the gap in the armor. I was ready.
After finishing my last hot wing and swig of beer I made my case. Joe's eyes narrowed as I explained that a binary option is not created by asserting that there is no God for a myriad of reasons. Chief among them was the idea that there are other possible explanations for the origins of the big bang besides the unmoved mover argument and the accidental universe argument.
While Joe never gives up on his faith, he had to admit defeat. Joe and I learned a valuable lesson that night, well Joe learned two. He learned that eating 9 buffalo wings, three slices of hot sauce infused pizza and half a six pack of beer hurts. We both learned that being an anti-theist doesn't necessarialy mean you have to believe in an accidental universe.